Karen Dalton: In My Own Time

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The story of Karen Dalton is not paved with gold or glitter. But her music continues to amaze and inspire new generations of music lovers.

Dalton didn’t write much of her own music – acting more as an interpreter than a songwriter – and she only cut two albums during her lifetime: 1969’s It’s So Hard to Tell Who’s Going to Love You the Best and 1971’s In My Own Time. Raised in Oklahoma and Kansas, Dalton entered the Greenwich Village folk circuit in the early 1960s, where she befriended the likes of Fred Neil, Tim Hardin and Bob Dylan. In My Own Time was recorded in Bearsville Studios, Woodstock with a great group of musicians and a wonderful set of songs. But it failed commercially, and Dalton drifted away and faded into obscurity, living a rough life, partly on the streets, fueled by her drinking and drugs habits. She passed away due to AIDS related illness in 1993 at only 55 years old.

Often dubbed «a folk singer’s answer to Billie Holiday,» Dalton’s hauntingly beautiful and bluesy voice matches her wide open musical approach, blending folk, country, soul and jazz, exemplified here with George Jones’ “Take Me” and Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Marvin Gaye hit “How Sweet It Is.” Highlights include the stunning opener «Something On Your Mind» and the dark, mournful and sparsely accompanied folk classic «Katie Cruel.» Karen Dalton was a transcendental singer, leaving no listener untouched.

Such a shame there were so few of them while she still was alive, in her own time.

Reklamer

Terry Callier: What Color Is Love

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In the early 1970s, Chicago singer-songwriter and jazz guitarist Terry Callier cut three astonishing albums for the Chess Records subsidiary Cadet: Occasional Rain and What Color Is Love (both 1972), and I Just Can’t Help Myself (1974). Here Callier fully displays his masterful ability to intertwine folk, rock, soul and jazz, and What Color Is Love shines particularly bright among the three.

This is a kaleidoscopic album of timeless beauty and enduring quality – sublime orchestration, funky grooves and lush arrangements add further texture to Callier’s rich, mellow voice and exquisite songwriting. In 2012 Terry Callier passed away at the age of 67, and despite being re-discovered by the British acid jazz scene in the early ’90s, he never really got the recognition he deserved.

He ranks up there with (his childhood friend) Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes and Gil Scott-Heron, and on ‘What Color Is Love’ he outshines them all. Just put on the epic opener «Dancing Girl» and check out for yourself.

The Record Collection: 1989 – 1

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My album collection, presented in chronological order from when it was bought from January 1988 – revisited one at the time. This is the first batch from 1989.

Jesus Chrysler | This Year’s Savior | Toxic Shock 1988 |


I knew next to nothing about Jesus Chrysler when I bought this LP, and can’t tell much more about them 30 years later. But now we’ve got Google. Not much is shared about Jesus Chrysler though, but they were from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, toured a bit with fellow Toxic Shock label mates Hickoids (more about them later), John Peel fancied their powerful tunes – and then they apparently disappeared at some point with this sole LP as their only legacy. There are no single hits here, but heck, this is one packed album of infectious songwriting, a good sense of humor and just about the right balance of hardcore punk and power pop. They used to be labeled as ‘hardcore pop’ by Toxic Shock – such a beloved label – and that’s just about right. (PS: Search led me to a Jesus Chrysler from St. Paul, but that’s a completely different band).

Elvis Hitler | Disgraceland | Restless 1988 |


Rockabilly punk from Detroit with lots of redneck humor, kinda like a mix of Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper and Nine Pound Hammer with a dash of The Cramps. ‘Disgraceland’ is one wild and ferocious ride, never too serious, and far less offensive than the band name suggests. Song titles like «Cool Daddy in a Cadillac» and «Hot Rod to Hell» says it all, and make sure not to miss «Green Haze» – a hilarious mash up of the lyrics to «Green Acres» with the melody of «Purple Haze».

The Reivers | End of the Day | Capitol 1989 |


The Reivers made some of the finest southern pop of the 1980s, starting off as Zeitgeist a couple years earlier. ‘End of the Day’ is a warm breeze of an album, gravitating around the gracious interplay between singers and guitarists John Croslin and Kim Longacre. Not quite jangle pop, nor southern gothic, even if their name is taken from a William Faulkner novel. The Austin, Texas band created a lush, gentle and mature pop album here, timeless in style and tone. The album cover sets the mood; this is one for those long, hot summer nights out on the porch.

The Pogues | If I Should Fall From Grace With God | Pogue Mahone 1988 |


He was a drunkard that almost lost it all, but Shane MacGowan is also such a tremendous songwriter and The Pogues were an astonishing band at the height of their career. And never did they sound better than here – under the firm guidance of producer Steve Lillywhite. ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’ has it all; the wild fury from their live shows, brilliant lyrics, and some of their most memorable tunes (the Christmas evergreen “Fairytale of New York”, once perfectly nailed by The Guardian “as good an example as any of MacGowan’s unerring ability to locate the romance in ruined lives”). Also including the Middle Eastern tinged “Turkish Song of the Damned”, politically charged «Streets of Sorrow»/»Birmingham Six» and their epic Irish-American emigration anthem “Thousands Are Sailing.” This is a classic album from start to finish, and the finest The Pogues ever made.

Yo La Tengo | President Yo La Tengo | Coyote 1989 |


Third album from the band that has yet to release a bad one is a mini LP consisting of both studio and a couple live recordings (from CBGB’s). It’s a short one, 30 minutes long, but packed with their signature sound where hushed down indie gems meets noisy guitar excesses. This can be exemplified by side 2, with the mind-blowing and lengthy version of «The Evil That Men Do» and a sweet take on Bob Dylan’s «I Threw It All Away». ‘President’ was my first encounter with a band that I’ve never tired of, always returns to and that continues to impress to this very day. After 30 years they’re like old friends, and in many ways they are. I still vote for them.

Violent Femmes | 3 | Slash 1989 |


Violent Femmes’ near perfect debut album turned out to be a blessing and a curse. Capturing the essence of youth with immediate and clever folk-pop anthems, the album is a forever classic that any band would have trouble matching. But all of their 1980s albums are actually well worth hearing, including this one, their fourth and awkwardly titled ‘3’. This time around, Violent Femmes returned to their stripped down roots, but with slightly less memorable songs than on their previous efforts. However, «Nightmares», «Fool in the Full Moon» and hauntingly beautiful «See My Ships» and «Nothing Worth Living For» are great additions to their catalog.

Sidewinders | ¡Cuacha! | San Jacinto/Diabolita 1989 |


I’m pretty sure I bought Sidewinders right off the bat based on their Tucson whereabouts and close connections with Giant Sand and the folks down there. Rich Hopkins does excellent guitar work throughout the album, Scott Garber guested on bass and Eric Westfall was involved with the production. I also remember how I just fell for the band name, the cover art and the title. They spoke to me. It’s been awhile since I put this one on, but it still sounds so damn good. Sidewinders operated in a rather characteristic 80’s guitar rock landscape, not too far from the LA-scene and names like The Dream Syndicate, True West and The Long Ryders; a little bit jangle, a little bit dusty country-rock and a little bit blistering pop-punk. Back then bands could juggle around; try out different stuff while finding their way. ‘¡Cuacha!’ is packed with great tracks on both sides, side 2 is even better than the first, including a lengthy version of «What She Said.» Sidewinders later became known as Sand Rubies, and they’ve been involved in varied stuff over the years. Make sure to pick up their first album if you ever stumble upon it. Another lost classic from the 1980s.

Waxing Poetics | Manakin Moon | Emergo 1988 |


Waxing Poetics was (or is, I believe they’re still up & running…) a Virgina four piece leaning towards tight and catchy Southern indie/heartland rock (think House of Freaks, Drivin’ N Cryin’, The Del-Lords). For the sophomore album ‘Manakin Moon’ they cleaned up the sound and let the guitars rock harder and more prominently than on their power pop debut (produced by pals Mitch Easter and R.E.M’s Mike Mills) – a slight stylistic change you’ll notice on the back cover shot where all four are dressed up in black leather jackets. My favorites here are the solid, powerful ballads like «Father, Son & Ghost» and «Downstairs,» where the great voice of lead singer David Middleton really shines. The LP also includes a somewhat surprising (and good) cover version of Brian Eno’s «Needle in the Camel’s Eye».

The Texas Instruments | The Texas Instruments | GWR 1988 |


Punks from Texas are something else, not being afraid to show off their eccentric preferences and cowboy roots. Just like the power trio The Texas Instruments. These guys sure know how to rock while staying true to their heartland hearts. Their first album is a great collection of songs, unpretentious no-nonsense style. If you like Meat Puppets, True Believers and Minutemen this is the missing link. The album includes a couple covers – Woody Guthrie’s «Do-Re-Mi» and Dylan’s «A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall»- that aren’t super necessary but adds some context to their sound. And works as reminder that it must’ve been a whole lotta fun to witness this band in their heyday. Their debut LP was originally released on Rabid Cat in 1986, this is the UK version dropped a year later – same cover and same songs. Produced by SST house producer Spot.

Cowboy Junkies | The Trinity Sessions | RCA 1989 |


Created in Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity, this album surely captures a holy spirit. Recorded with the band gathering around one microphone, the album is made up of truly wonderful originals and some equally great cover songs, including Hank Williams’ «I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry» and Velvet’s «Sweet Jane.» Performing in a hushed tone, quiet vocals and gentle instrumentation, this is intimate music made in a big room revealing even the smallest of details. Most albums lose some spark after awhile, this one is not of them. The album sounded timeless already at the time of its release, and still invokes an otherworldly feeling. ‘The Trinity Sessions’ was released in Canada in 1988; this international was released a year later. Cowboy Junkies have continued to make great albums up until this day. Make sure to check up on their full catalog.

The Record Collection: 1988 (61-71)

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My album collection, presented in chronological order from when it was bought from January 1988 – revisited one at the time. This is the final round from 1988.

Green On Red | Here Come The Snakes | Red Rhino 1988 |


What comes after the blues? Green on Red went down to Memphis to figure it out, and teamed up with producers Jim Dickinson and Joe Hardy at Ardent. Only a duo at the time, leaving Dan Stuart and Chuck Prophet as core members, this album digs deep down in the American soil of country, blues and rock & roll and ends up somewhere between The Rolling Stones and Neil Young, where the three songs at the tail end of the album shines particularly strong. Here Come The Snakes might lack the youthful innocence and camaraderie of their previous efforts, but it sure adds another value. Something more severe.

The band members reconciled some years later, but dark shadows looms over Green on Red at this point in their career.

Various artists | Welcome to Comboland | Making Waves 1986 |


North Carolina must’ve been a joyous place to live in the 1980s, judged by the friendly atmosphere and cheerful indie presented on this compilation. Or perhaps it’s just a reminder of less cynical times, a time of less tension and a more laidback attitude. Or maybe it’s because of Don Dixon, being largely responsible for producing many of the bands presented here. His jangly signature sounds permeate the album of twelve artists from the state. The Connells are probably most remembered of these bands today, however, I urge everyone to grab a copy of this sampler. Just for you to enjoy forty-two minutes of Southern hospitality, including prime acts like Southern Culture on the Skids, Fetchin’ Bones and The Spongetones.

Naked Prey | Naked Prey | Down There 1984 |


The 1984 debut album from Tucson outlaws Naked Prey is a raw and ragged exploration of an acid drenched southwestern mythology at the crossroads of garage rock and country punk. Fronted by the one and only Van Christian, with lovely guitar work by David Seger. Produced by Dan Stuart, Steve Wynn and great cover shot by Scott Garber, this is a supergroup in my book.

Giant Sand | The Love Songs | Demon 1988 |


We are all things at different times. This album made such an impact on me that I convinced my pal to buy a ‘66 Barracuda. I still remember how we cruised down the road under a fingernail moon, while the pine trees transformed into cactuses, counting stars like neon lights from down the mud to way up sky. The car eventually got sold, but the The Love Songs still thrones up there as a one of my dearest favorite albums of all time. ‘Your passion is like world war three/my defense is a crumbling NATO.’ I mean, what’s not to love?

Jane’s Addiction | Nothing’s Shocking | Warner 1988 |


So, this was pretty mind-blowing stuff 30 years ago. It’s not quite as shocking today, but the cover art alone, the conjoined twins with their heads on fire, sets the tone for an ambitious and powerful album. Jane’s Addiction managed to unify punk, funk and metal into something cutting-edge and timeless. Nothing’s Shocking paved way for so much of the grunge craze to come, but this is smarter, more arty and engaging than most of them.

Thin White Rope | In the Spanish Cave | Frontier 1988 |


In the Spanish Cave is a tad brighter and varied than its predecessors. Ranging from almost joyous tunes (“Mr. Limpet”) to bulldozing guitar assaults (“It’s OK”), it features their most beloved song, the epic desert anthem “Red Sun.” In a thorough review celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2013, The Quietus points out how they created an alien take on the unfathomable vastness of the American landscape and its effects on the nation’s psyche, and how they used this landscape, not as representing a sense of freedom, but as an area of something uncanny and unsettling, summing up the album as a “potent, fantastical window onto a malign new phase of the American Dream.” Needless to say, this is one of my favorite albums of all time.

Creedence Clearwater Revival | Cosmo’s Factory | Fantasy 1970 |


‘They’re selling independence/Actors in the white house/Acid in digestion/Mortgage on my life..’ With all their standards and ballads on daily adult radio rotation, it’s often easy to forget how insanely cool CCR actually was. “Ramble Tamble” sounds like something The Cramps and The Dream Syndicate could’ve cooked up together a decade later, with the breezy mid-section as one of this album’s standout moments. But there’s a lot more gold here; “Run Through The Jungle” and the lengthy “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” are particularly great – and most of the other songs are established as beloved rock classics.

Hüsker Dü | Candy Apple Grey | Warner 1986 |


Signing a band like Hüsker Dü on a major label must’ve been a rather bold move back in 1986. But in hindsight this was a prophesy of new times for American alternative guitar rock, and soon bands like R.E.M, Dinosaur Jr. and The Replacements moved from indies to major – without losing their former edge. The Hüskers was constantly developing from underground punks to something far more diverse and mature, and in many ways Candy Apple Grey is the culmination of a journey they’d started on with ‘Zen Arcade’ only two years prior. It’s nothing but amazing to look back at their astonishing intense production and rapid progression, and no wonder they were about to burn out and implode just a year or so later. Candy Apple Grey gives us some of their finest songs, including «Don’t Want To Know If You’re Lonely», «Sorry Somehow» and acoustic «Hardly Getting Over It.» What a truly great band they were.

True West | Hollywood Holiday | New Rose 1983 |


True West belonged to a group of likeminded 1980s Los Angeles bands dubbed ‘Paisley Underground’, along with The Dream Syndicate, The Bangles, The Long Ryders, The Rain Parade and others. It’s a shame that they’re largely ignored today, cause not only were True West the quintessential paisley band, a missing link between ’60s garage rock, trippy psychedelia (they do a mighty fine version of Pink Floyd’s «Lucifer Sam») and Televison (check out «It’s About Time»), this album holds up very well compared to many of their peers efforts and is a lost classic of ’80s guitar rock. A little while ago I named Drifters (1984) their masterpiece, but after another couple of listenings to Hollywood Holiday I must reconsider that statement. Man, I’d completely forgotten what a tremendous album this is, from start to finish. I love the frantic guitar work between Russ Tolman and Richard McGrath on the almost Gun Club-like «I’m Not Here» and songs like «And Then The Rain» and «Throw Away The Key» would’ve been hits in the hands of R.E.M. Hollywood Holiday is produced by Russ Tolman (he later went on and made a great, still ongoing solo career) and The Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn. They knew each other very well as members of The Suspects, the short lived band they shared with Kendra Smith, later in the first incarnation of The Dream Syndicate and Gavin Blair, lead singer of True West.

Thin White Rope | Exploring The Axis | Frontier/Zippo 1985 |


Thin White Rope never really fit into the categories used to brand guitar dominated rock in the 1980s. They were too harsh to be labeled as jangle, too loud for the emerging alternative country movement and too dark to fit into the flowery Paisley Underground. Just as close to Television, Bauhaus and Joy Division than their more successful contemporary counterparts in ’80s American underground (R.E.M, The Replacements, Pixies), Thin White Rope’s desert psychedelia was a far more vast and difficult creature to cast. Out of time back in the day, they are timeless in hindsight. Thin White Rope immediately introduced their main modus operandi. The first song off their first album, Exploring the Axis, is something of a surreal country-noir story entitled “Down in the Desert,” about a guy called Karl who headed south and came back changed by his experiences in the desert. (“Karl came back and he works and he smiles/But if you look closely there’s still something scared in his eyes…”) Based out in the Northern California university town of Davis, Thin White Rope often returned to the desert as a recurring trope in their songs, both emotionally and musically. “Soundtrack,” from the same album, also laid a sonic foundation for what to come later; their ability to let an austere tune about alienation (“Windshields are like TV screens/I’m not involved at all”) explode into a ferocious assault as a sneering Guy Kyser goes full Mad Max (“She throws firebombs on the highway/Glass splashing and bushes burning”), revealing a band with a constant underlying rage – a beast they sometimes tamed, sometimes let loose.

Oh yes, they held us in a firm grip out on that ledge, but one also softened with beautiful melodies and a sense of melancholia and human kindness; elements that would be more prominent later on in their career.

The Dream Syndicate | Ghost Stories | Enigma 1988 |


Ghost Stories is the fourth and final studio full-length album from The Dream Syndicate, until they finally returned after a 30-year long hiatus in 2017. Fronted by lead singer and songwriter Steve Wynn, The Dream Syndicate managed to keep a consistent and recognizable style all through the 1980s, but every album has its own distinct personality: The untamed ferocity of the 1982 debut, an album they’ll always be measured against, the grandiose and ambitious sophomore show, and their underrated third album, when they came out of the grey with upbeat breeziness. Produced by Elliot Mazer, ‘Ghost Stories’ ties together all this greatness into an album that sounds better and rocks harder than ever before. Wynn once described the album to me as «dark, noisy, and bratty but its also quite self-assured and not undone by production – neither too little nor too much.» He forgot to mention that the songwriting is ace throughout, there’s not a weak track here and Ghost Stories is one mighty, classic slice of 1980s guitar rock. Just hear the opening verse and try to turn off: «Every cloud has a silver lining/Every down has an answer, I know/But in my heart there’s no light shining/Just emptiness and faded glow/Raining down on the side I’ll never show…»

The Record Collection: 1988 (51-60)

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The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time. Part 5.

Sonic Youth | Daydream Nation | Blast First 1988 |


Bought in late October 1988, when this was brand new I guess. I knew Sonic Youth a little bit from before, had been scared off by ‘Confusion is Sex’ and fell in love with ‘Sister’ earlier in the same year. But this is still my gateway album into a band I’ve never tired from. Sonic Youth will forever be one of my definitive favorite bands. ‘Daydream Nation’ was a mind blowing experience back then, and it’s just as good today, 30 years later, ranking as one of the true masterpieces of not only 1980s guitar rock, but as a beacon in American underground culture.

R.E.M. | Green | Warner 1988 |


Is ‘Green’, their major label debut, the last great album of R.E.M.? I don’t know, I’m well aware of the enormous success they were about to enjoy later on, but for me, this was actually the final album I bought and enjoyed from start to finish from a band that was tremendously important to me. “World Leader Pretend” will forever remain an eternal favorite, but the whole album is just gorgeous. A soundtrack to the indian summer of 1988.

Divine Horsemen | Devil’s River | New Rose 1986 |


A Lee & Nancy kinda dark cowpunk romance set in the LA gutter, based on equal love for punk rock and honky tonk; Divine Horsemen are one of the true alt.country pioneers – but arrived a bit too early to cash in on the thing. ‘Devil’s River’ is their finest moment, and it has aged well too. Chris D and Julie Christensen was a mighty fine unit back in those days. And hey, it’s engineered by Mr Brett over at Westbeach.

Black Flag | My War | SST 1984 |


How much damage did this album cause for a young innocent kid, unaware of the sludgy nightmare on the b-side? I was already a fan of early Black Flag, “Six Pack”, TV Party” and such stuff, but this was a whole other ballgame. Little did I know that ‘My War’ became the gateway album to my grunge phase, right around the corner. The Pettibon cover is brilliant, too.

Green On Red | Green On Red | Down There/Enigma 1982 |


The musical roots to this EP can be traced back to the 1960s and bands like the Seeds and Electric Prunes, infused with the nervous tension of the early 1980s. ‘Green On Red’ is a dense masterpiece from a band in its very infancy, a night road trip from the Arizona desert to the backstreets of Los Angeles, where our protagonists evolves from youthful naivists to dark-eyed realists. “I made a pact with the devil that night” snarls Dan Stuart, while Chris Cacavas clings on to a steady organ drone. This might be a prediction of greater albums to come, but Green On Red never captured this almost dreamlike state of past and present ever again. I love it.

Thin White Rope | Red Sun EP | Demon 1988 |

“Red Sun” is the one majestic centerpiece in a catalog full of them, and it’s still the perfect song for those sweltering 100 degrees summer evenings on the porch. The grinding cover version of “Some Velvet Morning” is also worth mentioning, those guitars stems from a whole other solar system. Such a great EP, such a great band.

The Long Ryders | 10-5-60 | Zippo 1987 |


Six wonderful tracks of paisley power, where ‘60s folk rock meets ‘80s garage revival. “Born To Believe In You” was my favorite back then, and it still is.

True West | Drifters | Zippo 1984 |


The combination of chiming guitars, rootsy sound and retro-friendly jangle pop sure is irresistible. True West did it better than most of their peers, and ‘Drifters’ is their masterpiece. Especially side 2, including some of their most memorable songs, “And Then the Rain”, “Morning Light” and others, is standout. ‘Drifters’ is a mighty fine album.

Lee Clayton | Naked Child | Capitol 1979/1983 |


Where the heck is Lee Clayton today??

Motörhead | Ace Of Spades | Bronze 1980 |


Everything is cool about this album. I believe I bought it – in the fall of 1988 – mostly because of the cover art – I mean, what’s not to dig about those three mighty grim lookin’ cowboys posing in the desert. But the songs are killer too, of course. Timeless on all levels.

The Record Collection: 1988 (41-50)

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The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time. Part 4.

Russ Tolman | Down In Earthquake Town | Demon 1988 |


This is the second solo effort from Russ Tolman, a close associate of the jangle/underground scene in Los Angeles and former frontman of True West. This paisley packed album includes a fine list of guests, such as Steve Wynn (they used to run the label Down There together), Dave Provost and Chris Cacavas, and engineering credits goes to Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion, Epitaph). Tolman is a good, confident songwriter, and he crafted a varied and enjoyable album down in his earthquake town. It has aged rather well too, with its laidback feel and sunny LA vibe, rich instrumentation, including some mighty fine Southern horns it’s just one of those timeless albums that deserves far better than being swallowed in the sea of time.

Bruce Springsteen | Nebraska | CBS 1982 |


I listened a lot to Born in the U.S.A as a young kid, and know his catalog fairly well, but the lo-fi sounds of Nebraska remains my forever favorite. Not sure why I bought it in the fall of 1988, wasn’t a huge fan of Springsteen, but might be the cover art that appealed to me. Nebraska is actually my sole Springsteen LP in the collection and the one I always return to when I need some advice from the Boss.

E*I*E*I*O | Land of Opportunity | Demon 1985 |


This Wisconsin quartet played some mighty fine heartland Americana way before that was a hip term. There was nothing fancy about them, but on the other hand, this is one of those albums that never sounds outdated. Great vocals by frontman Steve Summers, strong songs throughout the whole album, and T-Bone Burnett lends some guitar assistance and co-production by Steve Berlin are just some of the treats on this debut. E*I*E*I*O fits nicely among likeminded peers such as BoDeans and Rave-Ups, but they never really got as recognized as deserved.

Thin White Rope | Moonhead | Frontier/Zippo 1987 |


Just as close to Television, Bauhaus and Joy Division than their contemporary counterparts in ’80s American underground (R.E.M, The Replacements, Pixies), Thin White Rope’s desert psychedelia was a far more vast and difficult creature to cast than most of their peers. Their second album Moonhead is a somber, bleak masterpiece, allowing for more space, tension and dark power than on their debut. Moonhead is one of the lost classics of the decade, once flourishingly described by British psych-guru Julian Cope: “[Guy] Kyser mumbles stripped down considerations about life, sex and death, and he seems a scientist who describes microscopic life forms. Mankind is reduced to puppet-like dimensions: around us, there’s an enigmatic, useless, obscure universe, apparently enemy of any feeling and thought.” For sure! It was a huge favorite 30 years ago, and it has followed me all my adult life without losing an inch of its majestic strength.

Giant Sand | Ballad of a Thin Line Man | Zippo 1986 |


Back in 1988, 30 years ago, I was still fooling around with music, everything was new and of interest, heading in all kinds of directions at the same time even though I was pretty much already set on the American underground train. I had already bought Storm a couple months prior to Ballad of a Thin Line Man, but it was here they turned into my forever favorite band. And just like I was searching for my musical bliss at the time – still am – Howe Gelb and his Giant Sand had just started to stake out their own course – still are, and that it was one of the reasons I love em. They would go on to make better albums later on I guess, but this one still holds a special place in my sandy heart.

The Gun Club | Miami | Animal 1982 |


‘Come down to, the willow garden with me’ Jeffrey Lee Pierce invites us to Miami, but we steer off the highway and enter into his dark mind, the willow gardens and deep into the very heart of Gothic American mythology. ‘Miami’ is a swampy blues album built on a punkish attitude, draped in voodoo rituals, deserted honky tonks and desperate fever. It has been a big favorite for 30 years, loved for the cover alone with its emerald-green sky and the palms raising majestic behind the trio in front of the image. Two of them look at something in the horizon; Pierce is dressed in dark, hair-dyed blonde, looking down to the ground. I’ve always linked this album to Jim Jarmusch’ ‘Stranger Than Paradise’, following a shabby trio through the Midwest and down to a run down tourist hub in Miami. There is not much paradise to find here, nor in Jeffrey Lee Pierce’ postcard from the south. But it is one damned journey.

Various artists | Rockabilly Psychosis and the Garage Disease | Big Beat 1984 |


I was a huge fan of Tales From the Crypt, Haunt of Fear and all the other early 1950s horror and gore stories from EC Comics (republished in the 80s). This album cover – and they mattered a whole lot back then – is a homage to the wicked and wild era of degenerate fun. And so is the music, a really cool collection of, well, rockabilly psychosis and the garage disease.

Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper | Frenzy | Restless/Enigma 1986 |


This San Diego based twosome was never about being too serious. Titles like “Gonna Put My Face on a Nuclear Bomb”, “I’m Living With a Three-Foot Anti-Christ” and “The Amazing Bigfoot Diet” says it all. They were hilarious and heartfelt, and they rocked big time with their infectious rockabilly blues. Mojo is hollering his lungs out while Skid is jamming on the washboard. There is just loads of party fun here, I’ve always had a soft spot for the satirical highlight and more mellow “Feeling Existential” with Steve Wynn on guest vocal:
‘Your goatee is growin’
In front of your fake French café
You’re readin’ Kirkegaard
Underneath your very black beret
Smokin’ filterless Camels
That stink just like Gitanes
Drinkin’ some espresso
Droppin’ all the names’

Giant Sand | Valley of Rain | Amazing Black Sand/Enigma 1985 |


Bought in October, anywhere 1988, my third Giant Sand LP that year, and one of the albums I’ve listened to the most my entire life. 30 years down the road I’m still amazed by how cool it is. Little did I know that these desert punks would soon blossom into something totally unique and follow me close until this very day. One of those random love stories I guess. A nice landscape, indeed…

The Beat Farmers | Tales Of The New West | Demon 1985 |

Here’s to having a good time, new western style. The Beat Farmers might came just a bit too early for the alt.country craze, but who cares. The San Diego based quartet’s debut album is packed with unpretentious, tight and fun songs. Great originals, cool covers and then there’s Country Dick Montana.
‘I was walkin’ down the street on a sunny day
Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
A feeling in my bones that I’ll have my way
Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
Well I’m a happy boy (happy boy)
Well I’m a happy boy (happy boy)’
There’s really nothing do but to raise the glass and sing along.

The Record Collection: 1988 (31-40)

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The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time. Part 3, Spring 1988.

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers | It’s Time For… | Rough Trade 1986 |

This album is summer to me. To be just about sixteen and hear “Just About Seventeen” for the first time was just about right on time. I immediately fell for Richman’s naive and almost childlike qualities, but behind the immediate charm are somber songs (“Ancient Long Ago”, “When I Dance”, “The Desert”) with enduring qualities lasting way past being seventeen and well into adulthood. This album still evokes the endless summer days of youth.

The Legendary Stardust Cowboy | Rock-It To Stardom | Big Beat 1985 |


Yee-haw, this is a way out rodeo ride from the cattle ranch to outer space and back by the one and only Legendary Stardust Cowboy from Lubbock, Texas. “Paralyzed” is the obvious novelty hit here; jaw-dripping hilarious and remarkably addictive. The Ledge made some wild rockabilly/psychobilly stuff back in the days, sometimes out of tune – “Who’s Knocking On My Door!” barely holds together and “Fly Me to the Moon” is, well, let’s say a bit weirder than Sinatra’s smooth version. “I Walk a Hot Wind” wouldn’t be totally off on a Cramps-album, and so it goes. Rock-it to Stardom is one helluva joyride even though it’s a bit overwhelming to digest all at once. Bowie was a fan and a friend, and supposedly invented Ziggy Stardust based on this here cowboy. The Ledge is still out there; whooping and a hollering to the moon.

Various artists | Don’t Shoot | Zippo/Demon 1986 |


Americana or alt.country were not frequently used terms when these (mainly) L.A cowpunks came riding into town. This collection serves as a great introduction to the scene, including core figures from bands like The Long Ryders, Green on Red, The Rain Parade, Giant Sand and many others doing a fine mix of covers and originals. Danny & Dusty kicks the whole thing off with previously unreleased “Bend in the Road”, the outlaw brotherhood anthem is still the highlight from an album filled with delightful neon dust from the sunset highway.

Dead Kennedys | Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables | Cherry Red 1981 |
Dead Kennedys | Plastic Surgery Disasters | Alternative Tentacles 1982 |
Dead Kennedys | Bedtime For Democracy | Alternative Tentacles 1986 |
Dead Kennedys | Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death | Alternative Tentacles 1987 |


In the summer of 1988 a friend of mine sold his LP’s when switching over to CD. I couldn’t afford buying a whole lot, but I managed to get hold of four albums by Dead Kennedys and almost completed their catalogue in one big swoop. Hit packed Fresh Fruit… and Give Me Convenience… became instant faves, and turned me on to a long and lasting relationship with not only Jello Biafra but to all the tentacles of the Alternative Tentacles universe. I learned a lot from the Kennedys, approving their anger and enjoying their satire. In the era of the Trump Empire a band like Dead Kennedys is sorely missed, even though much of their socio-political message is just as relevant today.

The Replacements | Pleased To Meet Me | Sire 1987 |


The transition from being a underground punk to gain mainstream fame reached its zenith with ‘Nevermind’ topping the charts in the early 90s. But the road to Nirvana started some years before, and The Replacements is a prime example of this journey (they even got their own “Never Mind” here). This is of course mockingly illustrated with the cover art, and in the music. Without losing sight of their punk roots in Minneapolis, this is the sound of a band growing up and – under the supervision of Jim Dickinson in Memphis – entangling deeper and wider than ever before. The Replacements were never about perfection, faults and flaws played an integral part of their sound and was something they built their entire recording career on. But they never sounded so imperfectly perfect as on Pleased To Meet Me. I’m still listening, looking at the stars and dreaming of the skyway.

Motor Boys Motor | Motor Boys Motor | Albion 1982 |


Taking their name from Joe Strummer’s 101’s song, Motor Boys Motor made just one album before guitarist Bill Carter and bassist Chris Thompson formed the Screaming Blue Messiahs. They were children of the pub rock craze, spiced up with avant rock influences (Beefheart, Pere Ubu) and R&B/blues roots. Some cool moments here and there, some silly ones (“Here Come the Flintstones”), they never really surpass the killer opening track “Drive Friendly” and never got quite as hazardous as the striking cover art.

deLillos | Suser avgårde | Sonet 1986 |


Det må ha vært sommeren 1985. Jeg hørte fast på Ungdommens Radioavis på den tiden – mediemangfoldet var noe begrenset – og den sommeren spilte de låtene fra rockemønstringen på høy rotasjon. Jeg husker ikke så mange av de andre finalistene, men «Siste sommerferiedag» med deLillos festet seg umiddelbart – den traff nok en dypt iboende melankolsk nerve – og ble min favorittlåt det året. Jeg satt hjemme og ventet på at den kanskje skulle komme, hver lørdag tror jeg det var, for det var ingen andre muligheter enn å sitte foran radioen og vente. Litt senere hørte jeg «Johnny Fredrik» og så viste Halvsju videoen til «Tøff i pyjamas», og sammen med Jokke ble deLillos mitt første og største norske favorittband. Suser avgårde er den eneste LP-platen i samlingen som jeg faktisk kjøpte først på CD – i 1987 må det ha vært, deretter på nytt igjen på LP året etter. Uansett format, ‘Suser avgårde’ er en fantastisk bra plate, fri for dødpunkter, som hver gang gjenskaper følelsen av ungdom og sommer, der naivisme og uskyld møter gryende voksenalvor og usikkerhet. Jeg var allerede godt kjent med musikken til R.E.M, The Chills og Jonathan Richman, og det var først og fremst i denne musikalske tradisjonen deLillos hørte hjemme i mitt hode. Men de sang på norsk, og de talte til meg uten omveier. Det var ikke noe jeg heller ville bli enn en forsoffen student som flanerte langs brosteinslagte bygater, gå på fester med søte piker og drøssevis av vinkasser, ja bare suse avgårde inn i livet.

The Record Collection: 1988 (20-30)

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The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time.

The Dream Syndicate | The Days Of Wine And Roses | Closer 1982 |


I vividly remember buying this LP – the French pressing – on my first ever record fair, early in 1988. I was well aware of The Dream Syndicate at the time, going back to Out of the Grey that I’d bought on cassette a couple years before. I adore all of Syndicate’s albums, but I always find myself returning to this here baby. The Days Of Wine and Roses must’ve been an anomaly in 1982, way ahead and out of tune with the sign of the times it marks the return of GUITARS in American rock. This is a tour de force of loud, noisy, abrasive, distorted, tickling guitars, cool Velvet vibes and an almost free jazzy approach to the songs. They are all awesome, from creepy beasts like “Halloween” (oh, when those guitars kick in) and “When You Smile” to full force freak outs (the kosmisch title track, “Definitely Clean”) and instant college rock anthems (“Tell Me When It’s Over”). In short, this is a cornerstone in 80’s American guitar rock that set a standard hardly anyone has managed to achieve ever after. Stories and words are here and gone, but this album hasn’t faded at all.

Wall of Voodoo | The Ugly Americans In Australia | I.R.S. 1988 |


I’d been drawn to the stoic super-American voice of Stan Ridgeway for some years when the Wall Of Voodoo live album hit the shelves in 1988. I guess it felt like a quite unnecessary purchase back then, I haven’t given it too many spins, and this live LP doesn’t really reveal new magic 30 years down the road. But, there are some great explorations of sci-fi new wave gone country here, horseback space travel style. “Far Side Of Crazy” and “Mexican Radio” are obvious favorites, and the version of “Ring Of Fire” is pretty dope. Never saw them live, but I believe this LP captures the band in prime shape – and the sound quality is not too bad either. However, when I feel like listening to WoV I rather pick up one of their awesome studio albums. Think I’ll do just that right now.

The Sex Pistols | Never Mind The Bollocks | Virgin 1977 |


One of remarkably few albums in my LP collection bought on its historical merits rather than being new and fresh. As a matter of fact Never Mind the Bollocks was only 10 years old then, comparable to buying a 2008 album today, but back in those days this was an old school dinosaur from a whole other time. Never a huge fan of British punk in general, and finding Johnny Rotten’s voice mostly annoying, I have to acknowledge the band’s unquestionable qualities and their nose for efficient songwriting. No fillers here, just pure punk catchy as hell. No need to go in depth on its historical significance, just one of those albums you need to know I guess. Glad I turned on as a kid, even though I rarely listen to it.

Giant Sand | Storm | Demon 1988 |

Storm was my introduction to the wondrous world of Howe Gelb and his Giant Sand, and what has now turned out to be a 30 year long relationship. Giant Sand have always been all over the map, difficult to pigeonhole, unmistakable unpredictable and remarkably recognizable. I’m so thankful for stumbling down their desert rabbit hole, and it all started with Storm. It obviously holds a special place in my heart. The songs range from Neil Young style environmental concern, a cover of The Band’s “The Weight”, straight out honky tonk, ragged country rock (“Town Without Pity”), country gospel (“The Replacement”) and dusty piano ballads (my personal fave “Was Is a Big Word”) – on Storm Howe Gelb started to shape a signature style of songwriting unmatched by anyone.

Hasil Adkins | He Said | Ace/Big Beat 1985|


Wild, wayward and hell-bent, the one man band of Hasil Adkins exploded like a bomb in the ears of this here kid, proving rock n’ roll was something wilder and primitive, more untamed and way out there than your parents Elvis albums. This is the raw sound of a one man rebellion against conformity and boredom. “She Said” being the classic tune here, I also tuned into the even more awkward and freaky “We Got a Date.” They just don’t make em like Hasil anymore.

Rave-Ups | Town + Country | Fun Stuff/Demon 1985 |


Americana was not a frequently used term in 1985, but plenty of bands played boots ‘n roll before Uncle Tupelo et al pushed the direction further into the mainstream and new directions. Among those pioneering acts in the early to mid 80s we find Hollywood via Pittsburgh quartet Rave-Ups, sparkling with equal parts pleasant college rock fervor and neo-country twang – town and country if you like. Frontman Jimmer Podrasky sang with nasal country sincerity, sometimes with a rockabilly yelp, and Sneaky Pete Kleinow lays down some mighty fine pedal steel here too. “Radio” was the big favorite back then, and this haunting night tune is still the highlight amongst a number of other fine cuts – “Positively Lost Me” being the most famous. The back cover reminds us of a time when urban cowboys actually were pretty in pink.

AC/DC | Back in Black | Atlantic 1980 |


My record collection is scarcely populated with hard rock or metal albums, but the ones I bought are actually not too bad. Back in Black is by all means a classic, the title track, “Hells Bells” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” are eternal anthems in the Aussie rockers – or anyone’s – catalog. Tight production provided by Mutt Lang and Brian Johnson passed the test and immediately proved he could fill the shoes of Bon Scott adds even more power to this album. But I can’t say I ever played this a whole lot in 1988 and I haven’t listened to it too much as the years went by either. My loss, I guess.

Violent Femmes | Violent Femmes | Slash/London 1983 |


A little girl glances through a darkened window, barefoot and with a white summer dress on, resembling a 19th century painting. What’s in there, in the dark, that we don’t see? The innocent child catches a glimpse into the adult world, as confessed by a college kid, a world of deception and debauchery, religious shame and sexual confusion, love, lies and lust. Many have done this before and after, but none as compelling as Gordon Gano and his Violent Femmes on their debut album. The Milwaukee trio played punk rock with folk instruments, or folk songs with a punk attitude perhaps, singing their hearts out from any street corner. One thing is that the songs are super catchy, the lyrics really makes this a standout album. I memorized each and every one, these stories all became the soundtrack to my youth. Every time I listen to this album I’m 16 again, kissing off in the air, chasing that good feeling, trying to wipe away the shades from those windows and get a glimpse of the secrets in there.

Concrete Blonde | Concrete Blonde | I.R.S. 1986 |


“Still in Hollywood” was the big favorite back in the days, and it’s still the standout track from Concrete Blonde’s debut album. Hailing from the same buzzing LA scene that included bands like Wall Of Voodoo, X, Jane’s Addiction and The Gun Club, the blondes certainly had a punk edge to their sound, softened with a rock approach in the vein of The Pretenders and Heart. Johnette Napolitano is unquestionably the star, with her recognizable strong voice and cool attitude. Concrete Blonde made better albums later on in their career, but I still get a kick out of this one. It’s true.

Iron Maiden | Live After Death | EMI 1985 |


Superior technical skills, theatrical gimmicks, and over the top performance are just some of Iron Maiden’s characteristics – and they all come out to play on their 1985 live album. The Churchill intro followed by “Aces High” sets the standard for an album that leaves no room for any fillers. Live After Death captures the band in its prime. Classic cover art too, as always. Can’t wait for the kids to discover this, cause after all, Iron Maiden speaks to the inner child in all of us.

The Record Collection: 1988 (1-20)

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The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time.

Fetchin Bones | Bad Pumpkin | Capitol 1986 |

Underrated and sadly forgotten North Carolina quintet combining a kind of Southern jangly vibe with restless proto-grunge. They supported R.E.M and the B-52’s, whom they both are sonically related to. This is their second album, marking their move from small db Records to a major label without losing their spark. Rather this LP still holds up thanks to careful production by Don Dixon and tight songs throughout the record. And Hope Nicholls was a great singer back then, and she still is.

Ben Vaughn Combo | The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn | Restless/Making Waves 1986 |

‘I got a 1969 Rambler American/Baby aren’t you impressed/Sure I could have a Datsun 280 Z/But I’m not like all the rest’ Ben Vaughn blends humor and wit with classic American music; rock’n’roll, rockabilly and country twang. He’s been doing his thing since the early 1980’s, and has released albums better than this during his long career. But Vaughn and his Combo had such an irresistible charm on songs like “I’m Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee)”, “I Dig You Wig” and “Wrong Haircut” that makes his debut album still a treat to listen to.

The Dream Syndicate | This Is Not The New Dream Syndicate Album… Live! | A&M 1984 |

Recorded live at the Aragon in Chicago one hot July night in 1984, when The Dream Syndicate toured on ‘The Medicine Show’ (released a month prior) with R.E.M. Only five songs long, but these are all classics – from a band in blistering shape. The classic line up of Steve Wynn, Dennis Duck, guitarist Karl Precoda on his last album with the Syndicate, and newcomer Mark Walton. Tommy Zvoncheck guests on keys, but this performance is first and foremost about four guys and great songs; long jams, feedback orgies and the joy of a sweaty club night. That’s rock and roll.

Guadalcanal Diary | 2×4 | Elektra/Asylum 1987 |


Producer Don Dixon is synonymous with some of the finest guitar rock of the 1980s, with a jangly signature sound that mainly captured the spirit of Southern indie and mostly known for his work with early R.E.M. Guadalcanal Diary, also from Georgia, never earned the same levels of commercial success. A new listen to the hands down masterpiece ‘2×4’ serves as a reminder on how that is just unfair. They shared some obvious similarities, but this quartet had a more direct and extrovert approach to their songwriting. This is their finest moment, an energetic and eclectic set of pure excellent songs.

The Screaming Blue Messiahs | Bikini Red | Elektra 1987 |


London based Screaming Blue Messiahs rose from the ashes of Motor Boys Motor (named after a 101’ers tune) exposing a crew owing debt to the likes of Bo Diddley, Little Richard and Captain Beefheart. With some adjustments to the line-up, the smokin’ trio was finally settled as the highly skilled outfit of Bill Carter on guitar and vocals, Chris Thompson on bass and Kenny Harris on thundering drums. Soon after they were renamed the Screaming Blue Messiahs. The Vic Maile produced ‘Bikini Red’ saw the band dwelling even deeper into iconic American pop and trash culture. Complete with references to Elvis, cars, booze, TV evangelists and fast living, the music itself proves an amalgam of rockabilly, rhythm & blues, hillbilly and surf fronted by Bill Carter who (with an American accent) declared that “Jesus Chrysler Drives a Dodge,” “I Can Speak American” and even “I Wanna Be a Flintstone.

Various artists | I Was A Teenage Zombie | Enigma 1987 |


Still haven’t seen the movie, but suspect the soundtrack is superior to the comedy-horror flick. This is a decent selection with some of the finest indie artists of the time picked from the Enigma roster. The db’s, Smithereens, and Los Lobos are all in here, and the Fleshtones got a minor hit with the theme song. The highlights are Violent Femmes’ “Good Feeling” and The Dream Syndicate with the haunting masterpiece “Halloween.”

R.E.M | Chronic Town | I.R.S 1982
R.E.M | Murmur | I.R.S 1983 |
R.E.M | Reckoning | I.R.S 1984 |


I discovered R.E.M with ‘Life’s Rich Pageant’ as a 13-14 year old kid, and immediately fell in love, not only with R.E.M but in alternative American guitar rock in general. So when I finally switched over from cassettes to LP’s in 1988, purchasing their back catalog was obviously a high priority. One lucky day I went home with ‘Chronic Town’, ‘Murmur’ and ‘Reckoning’ bought from a friend, meaning days and weeks of deep listening. Humming along to barely recognizable lyrics. R.E.M might went on to release better albums later in their career, but these three albums, they’re all equal to me, really captures all I love about them. And they still sound as adventurous and amazing as they did on that February day in 1988.

Green On Red | Gas Food Lodging | Enigma 1985 |


Green On Red released nothing but excellent albums between 1982-88, and some great moments in the years after. This is the band in its prime; Dan Stuart, Big Dog MacNicol (RIP), Jack Waterson, Chuck Prophet and Chris Cacavas made one helluva great line up, supported with fine production from Paul B. Cutler of the Dream Syndicate. From the blazing opener ‘That’s What Dreams’ to the campfire version of ‘We Shall Ocercome’, this is rootsy ragged rock at it’s finest, but side 2 with ‘Sixteen Ways’, ‘The Drifter’ and ‘Sea Of Cortez’ are particular standouts. Heck, all of them are.

Thin White Rope | Bottom Feeders | Zippo/Frontier 1988|

Not too many bands can boast a recorded history without any major flaws. But Northern California’s Thin White Rope are one of those. They made great studio albums throughout, well known for their even more ferocious live shows of massive wall of guitars and bulldozer sound. The group never really fit into the categories used for branding guitar dominated rock in the 1980s. Thin White Rope were too harsh to be labeled as jangle, too loud for the emerging alternative country movement and too dark to fit into the flowery Paisley Underground. ‘Bottom Feeders’ is an EP of four originals and two covers (Jimmy Reed’s “Ain’t That Loving You Baby” and highlighted with a blistering live version of Suicide’s “Rocket USA”) and tucked between the bleak masterpieces ‘Moonhead’ and astonishing ‘In The Spanish Cave’. But there’s no reason to ignore this little beast of chainsaw guitars, raspy vocal and spooky vibes. Great cover art by Steve Blickenstaff.

The Dead Kennedys | Frankenchrist | Alternative Tentacles 1985 |


In an ideal world, songs about corrupt government, robots replacing the working class, suburban decay and structural racism would be of out of date some 30 years down the line. Alas, as we all know, the topics raised on ‘Frankenchrist’ are more relevant than ever. “No wonder others hate us/And the Hitlers we handpick/To bleed their people dry/For our evil empire”, Biafra sings on the album standout ‘Stars and Stripes of Corruption’ like an omen for the presidency and leadership in 2018. ‘Frankenchrist’ might lack the immediate punk anthems of its predecessors, but musically this is also Kennedy’s best and most diverse album, where they expanded their punk roots and embraced a far more eclectic sound to include surf, Latin, psychedelic and synth elements. The album is mostly remembered for the massive controversy that followed, when the band was brought to court – and to their knees – due to the inlay poster ‘Penis Landscape’ by H.R Giger. Such fools, when the real concern should’ve been on solving the real problems outlined here. ‘Frankenchrist’ is an underrated gem in the band’s catalog.

The Replacements | Let it Be | Twin/Tone / Zippo 1984 |


This is just the ultimate album when you’re 16 and life to go. The Replacements’ combination of restless energy and slacker attitude, teen angst and drunken confidence hit like a bomb when I bought ‘Let It Be’ in 1988, and it became the soundtrack into adolescence. “How young are you?/How old am I?/Let’s count the rings around my eyes” is just an ace opening statement into an album packed with classic coming of age tunes miles ahead from their previous more punk based efforts, sometimes like a mix of the Stones’ swagger and ‘Born to Run’ era Springsteen. The album cover is perfect too, remember how I just wanted to climb that roof and squeeze in between these four hoodlums from Minneapolis.

Green On Red | Gravity Talks | Slash 1983 |


I first heard Green On Red on the ‘Slash Cuts’ compilation, where “Five Easy Pieces” was a standout. Driven by Chris Cacavas’ psychedelic keyboard swirls and Dan Stuart’s snarling vocals, the band found their own place in their infancy combining 60’s garage/psychedelia and Dylanesque folk-rock. Gravity Talks is a very fine document of this epoch, provided by a bunch of clever outlaw kids from Arizona still not sure about where to go. I love the nervous desperation that hangs over the whole album, a youthful energy impossible to replicate later in a career. ‘We don’t pretend to know everything or speak out loud like our parents did’, Stuart sings on the anthemic “Brave Generation”, name checking Fitzgerald and Faulkner on a coming of age story of growing up between the Vietnam war and Cold War anxiety: ‘We’re not beat, we’re not hip, we’re the Brave Generation, what a trip.’

The Del Fuegos | Boston Mass | Slash 1985 |


Yet another album bought off the ‘Slash Cuts’ compilation I guess. There was nothing hip or super fancy about the Del Fuegos in 1988, still aren’t. But their basic and credible urban heartland rock ‘n’ roll has some strong timeless qualities – and time has fared rather well with this one, their second album. Fronted by the Zanes’ brothers and produced by Mitchell Froom, Del Fuegos’ hammered out a couple of easy to like bar room and streetwise backroad tunes – equally perfect for both purposes (not at the same time though). This is the ‘sound of our town’, that’s the sound of Boston, Mass all right.

The Dream Syndicate | Medicine Show | A&M 1984 |

Following their raucous debut full length, The Dream Syndicate signed with a major label, teamed up with renowned producer Sandy Pearlman (Blue Öyster Cult, The Dictators, The Clash) and spent five months in the studio to finish their Medicine Show. It was met with various receptions at the time, but has gained favorable to classical status over the years. Pearlman and Syndicate shaped a far different sound for this album, more related to Television, The Cars and Neil Young than Velvet Underground. This is American gothic stories filled with some of Steve Wynn’s most memorable characters on songs like “Burn”, “Armed With An Empty Gun” and “Bullet With My Name On It.” But the panoramic widescreen vision reveals in its full on side 2: The title track, the blistering jam “John Coltrane Stereo Blues” and “Merritville” are all epic and has deservedly so become standards in the band’s catalogue. Medicine Show was obtained at a time when learning the lyrics was part of buying an album. I memorized all of these songs by heart, and they’re still holding on to me.

Hüsker Dü | Warehouse: Songs And Stories | Warner 1987 |

Could have been the one to boast Zen Arcade or New Day Rising as my entry points to Hüsker Dü, but as it happened their swan song Warehouse: Songs and Stories became my gateway album. I discovered them without any anticipation or deep knowledge about their astonishing back catalogue. I was just thrown into this sprawling sonic assault of thin fuzz, frenetic pace and way to clever poetry for a kid my age. It was almost too much. I guess the sheer intensity and emotional depth did resonate very well at the time. And the songs are catchy as hell. I didn’t care to much about the front cover though, but adored the back cover; those three weird and average looking guys laying on the grass surrounded by psychedelic blasts. 30 years down the road it still sounds like an amalgam of 60’s pop anthems filtered through a punk psychedelic odyssey, I particularly recall “Ice Cold Ice”, “Could You Be the One” and especially “She Floated Away” being played nonstop. Warehouse: Songs And Stories is a breathtaking kaleidoscopic soundtrack of youth, the sound of a band that had finally grown up – but also a band that were falling apart. In the end, I guess everything does.

The Del-Lords | Johnny Comes Marching Home | EMI America 1986 |

Of all the albums bought in my pioneer days, this is the one I probably know the least. I don’t recall the actual purchase, nor the songs in detail. So with a bit of excitement I drop the needle and press play. Just like the first time. The archetypal 80s sound aside, time has fared rather well with Johnny. The cover doesn’t lie. These four tough, denim and leather dressed New York guys could’ve been lifted straight outta ‘American Graffiti’, cruising down the main drag and looking for trouble at the soda shop while hanging round the jukebox. And it’s pretty much that kind of music they make; no nonsense rock rooted directly back to the 1950s with a modernized and radio friendly sound – and some nice parts of chiming Byrds-like guitars. Not bad at all, formerly Dictators’ and front man Scott Kempner is a great songwriter and assembled a more than decent cast of characters, including Eric ‘Roscoe’ Ambel, for The Del-Lords. Sometimes all we need is to rock out, have a good time and don’t worry too much. The sound of carefree times has no expiration date.

Danny & Dusty | The Lost Weekend | A&M 1985 |

When you’re 15-16, life’s at the crossroads. Your path is not yet set, there are choices to be made; sports, school, or well, smoking and drinking. Now, I’ll never blame Danny & Dusty for leading me down the wrong road, but those two fellas on the cover sure seems to have a good time! Who doesn’t wanna join in on their drunken choir? And Danny & Dusty sounds just like a couple friends having the time of their lives. It certainly helps when they happened to be Dan Stuart and Steve Wynn, joined by a fine group of likeminded ramblers from The Long Ryders and Green On Red/The Dream Syndicate. They dropped most of their gloomy credibility and pretensions outside and entered the bar with nothing but good intentions: to sing, drink, shoot stories, long on talk and short on cash, and drink some more. ‘One’s too many, and a hundred’s not enough’ as they say in the legendary movie The Lost Weekend (I watched it immediately after buying the album.) The result is loose and spontaneous, but not too sloppy, rather it’s rowdy, confident and has actually aged very well. The songs are great, from when the word is out until we knock on heavens door begging for hangover relief on Sunday. Chris Cacavas is perfect as the barroom pianist, Dan and Steve know how to tell stories about winners and losers in the shadow of the Hollywood neon glimmer. Lebowski might be the dude, but these guys, they were the real dudes.

The Cramps | Psychedelic Jungle | I.R.S. 1981 |

‘Primitive, that’s how I live.’ Lux Interior holler and howls all the way through ‘Psychedelic Jungle.’ The Cramps’ second album is onehelluva slow burning garbage crate digging bonanza of 1950s sleaze and dark shades, a wild, weird and wicked entry to a world of voodoo rockabilly, haunted garage rock and deranged punk. I discovered the band, as far as I remember, with a live version of “Sunglasses After Dark” played on radio, and was immediately hooked. I don’t play this too often though, must’ve been years since I was reminded to not eat stuff from the sidewalk

Year of the Rooster: Årets album og låter 2017

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Mitt lyttemønster preges i stor og økende grad av enkeltlåter framfor konsentrerte dypdykk ned i enkeltalbum. Noe skyldes et relativt stort musikalsk konsum hver dag og uke, som ikke gir altfor store rom for grundig fordypning over tid, et luksusproblem som også sier noe om det enorme berget av god musikk som kontinuerlig kommer ut (mest middelmådig, men hvem har vel tid til å bry seg om denslags). Det er derfor kanskje litt bråkjekt å si det, men 2017 har ikke vært preget av dette ene opplagte albumet – det som virkelig har klistret seg fast til den digitale eller fysiske platespilleren i uke etter uke, men snarerer denne jevne strømmen som legger seg til det evig voksende lasset som venter på å bli hørt i den kontekstuelle helheten de fortjener.

Her er lista over albumene og låtene jeg har gledet meg mest over i år, så langt, og jeg tror alle følger med over til 2018 uten å miste altfor mye glans.

Årets album 2017

Kendrick Lamar: Damn
(Top Dawg/Interscope)


– … fordi Hot DAMN. Så bra at han like gjerne ga den ut både framlengs og baklengs. Kunne gitt den ut sidelengs for min del.

Mount Eerie: A Crow Looked At Me
(P.W. Elverum & Sun, Ltd.)


… fordi dette er den av årets plater jeg har hørt mest på som jeg har hørt minst på – og som jeg egentlig ikke vil høre på. Ikke fordi den er dårlig, på langt nær, men fordi det gjør vondt og det er tungt å gå inn i entreen sammen med Phil Elverum denne gangen. Han åpner døra for oss inn til sitt hjem og hjerte, dunkelt belyst er det, leier oss liksom inn, inn i et hus fylt av minner og lukter og savn og sorg etter kona, og han viser oss dette med alt av menneskelig styrke og svakhet som det er mulig å stable på plass i en skjelven favn. Jeg er glad for at han gjorde det. Og lei meg for at han måtte det.

Power Trip: Nightmare Logic
(Southern Lord)

… fordi ingen tar skade av en porsjon mettal for å røske opp litt i ny og ne. Jeg har alltid likt Southern Lord og hatt sans for deres mørke og seige doom-ting, men dette er pur party fra start til slutt, det vil si snaue halvtimen. Jeg har så vidt begynt å olje en litt rusten kjærligheten for vintage thrash, og denne har bare trigget interessen ytterligere. Nightmare Logic har noen av de feteste riffene du vil høre i år, og det i selskap med særs mange sterke metall-utgivelser (Pallbearer, Bell Witch, Converge, Chelsea Wolfe, Wolves in the Throne Room, Elder, Converge…) står denne igjen som årets favoritt – og årets tøffeste råkkeskive.

Tyler the Creator: Flower Boy
(Columbia)


… fordi selv om Tyler the Creator har med seg et fett stjernelag på gjestelisten, inkludert Frank Ocean, Kali Uchis, A$ap Rocky, Jaden Smith, “vår egen” Anna of the North og mange andre, er dette først og fremst blomsterguttens eget mesterverk. På sitt fjerde soloalbum fortsetter Tyler the Creator å tøye musikalske grenser og brette ut sjela si på et vis som er sterkt imponerende.

Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway
(Nonesuch)

… fordi Americana-genren aldri har stått sterkere, med en lang rekke artister, nye og gamle, som alle har levert noen av årets beste og mest relevante plater, som Jason Isbell, John Moreland, Zephaniah Ohora, Rodney Crowell, Hurray For the Riff Raff, Angaleena Presley og en lang rekke andre. Rhiannon Giddens stikker seg likevel ut litt ekstra som en kraftfull og klar stemme i et betent politisk klima. Vandrende langs den sølete frihetsveien har frontfiguren fra Carolina Chocolate Drops laget en plate som med røtter dypt ned i bakken og langt tilbake i tid belyser Amerika av i dag.

Brockhampton: Saturation II
(Question Everything)


… fordi dette Texas/Los Angeles baserte hiphop-kollektivet (unnskyld, boybandet) er årets suverene nykommer, som i år like gjerne fullførte hele sin Saturation-trilogi. Anført av ekstremt kreative Kevin Abstract preges Brockhampton av et vitalt musikalsk overskudd som går på tvers av genre og der alle involverte løfter hverandre opp og fram.

Jane Weaver: Modern Kosmology
(Fire)


… fordi Jane Weaver på sitt sjette album har funnet den perfekte kombinasjonen av deilige krautbeats, rastløs psykedelia og flørtende electronica. Modern Kosmology er som tittelen indikerer en speisa trip ut i kosmos, men det er en plate som heller aldri mister bakkekontakten. Jane Weaver synger med sval og sober stemme, litt sånn Nico-drømmeaktig, og som en sirene lokker hun oss inn i sitt Wicker Man’ske eventyrrike som vi aldri har lyst til å komme ut av.

Peter Perrett: How the West Was Won
(Domino)

…fordi denne tidligere tidligere frontmannen i The Only Ones (de med “Another Girl, Another Planet” og en drøss andre klassikere) har levd flere liv enn de fleste av oss, kommet ut av rennesteinen på mirakuløst vis og minner om at egenskapene som låtskriver ikke har blitt borte på veien. Snarere tvert i mot. Peter Perrett (65) skriver med hjertet bankende utenpå skjorta. Lakonisk og hjertevarm, mørk og morsom lirer han ut av seg smått briljante låter med et blikk og en penn skarpere og mer presis enn de fleste kan drømme om å nærme seg. Hjerteskjærende bra.

Gun Outfit: Out of Range
(Paradise Of Bachelors)


… fordi jeg er en sucker for slackers. Det har kommet mye fint i denne gata i år, Kevin Morby, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile og Michael Nau kunne alle vært med her. Men jeg går for denne. Gun Outfit hangler avgårde sånn akkurat passe vindskeivt og fint, men på finurlig vis får de det til å henge sammen. Liker du den slentrende vokalstilen til David Berman (Silver Jews) og de skakke melodilinjene til Pavement koplet med den rastløse energien til The Feelies er dette akkurat den dosen med Cosmic American Indie du trenger i år.

Curtis Harding: Face Your Fear
(Anti-)


… fordi Curtis Harding har en av disse uimotståelige varme soul-stemmene, og han forvalter arven etter de store (Marvin, Curtis et al) bedre enn de fleste – uten egentlig å bryte ny grunn. Han imponerte med debuten Soul Power i 2014, og fortsetter den fine stilen med Face Your Fear. Jeg hadde ikke tenkt at denne skulle havnet på Topp 20, dette er ikke en plate som nødvendigvis avdekker nye hemmeligheter for hver gjennomhøring, men den sitter veldig godt på øret til de fleste sammenhenger og har hengt med gjennom hele året. Og alle trenger vi en god dose soul i hverdagen.

***

Valerie June: The Order of Time
(Caroline)

Posse: Horse Blanket
(Self-released)

The Feelies: In Between
(Bar/None)

Couch Slut: Contempt
(Gilead Media)

Anouar Brahem: Blue Maqams
(ECM)

Ruby Rushton: Trudi’s Songbook: Volume One & Two
(22a)

Kaleema: Nómada
(Tropical Twista)

Trio Da Kali & Kronos Quartet: Ladilikan
(World Circuit)

Dean Hurley: Anthology Resource Vol. 1: △△
(Sacred Bones)

Zara McFarlane: Arise
(Brownswood Recordings)

Howe Gelb & Lonna Kelly: Further Standards
(Fire)

gelb.jpg

~ ~ ~ bobbling below ~ ~ ~
//JAY Z: 4:44//Susanne Sundfør: Music For People In Trouble//Fleet Foxes: Crack-Up//Thundercat: Drunk//Grizzly Bear: Painted Ruins//Michael Nau: Some Twist//This is the Kit: Moonlight Freeze//The Dream Syndicate: How Did I Find Myself Here//Sannhet: So Numb//Gas: Narkopop//Thurston Moore: Rock N Roll Consciousness//The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding//Slowdive: s/t//Protomartyr: Relatives in Descent//Laura Marling: Semper Femina//Aimee Mann: Mental Illness//Waxahatchee: Out in the Storm//Big Thief: Capacity//Joan Shelley: s/t//Aldous Harding: Party//Father John Misty: Pure Comedy//Tara Jane O’Neil: s/t//Rodney Crowell: Close Ties//Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: The Nashville Sound//Hurray for the Riff Raff: The Navigator//Angaleena Presley: Wrangled//Erlend Ropstad: Alt som har hendt//Phoebe Bridgers: Stranger in the Alps//Matttis Kleppen: Bassgitar//Spoon: Hot Thoughts//Zephania Ohora: This Highway//Tønes: Sesong 4//Esmerine: Mechanics of Dominion//King Krule: The Ooz//

Topp 100 Låter

Hele spillelista hører du her

Father John Misty: Pure Comedy

JAY-Z: The Story of O.J.

Kendrick Lamar: HUMBLE.

Shabazz Palaces: Shine a Light (feat. Thaddillac)

Grizzly Bear: Four Cypresses

Drake: Passionfruit

Ezra Furman: Driving Down to L.A.

Hurray For the Riff Raff: Pa’lante

Harry Styles: Sign of the Times

Thundercat feat. Michael McDonald & Kenny Loggins: Show You the Way

~~~Bubbling below~~~
Frank Ocean: Chanel
Cende: What I Want
Ariel Pink: Another Weekend
Fleet Foxes: -Naiads, Cassadies
Girl Ray: Stupid Things
Posse: Keep Me Awake
Washed Out: Get Lost
Kevin Morby: City Music
Phoebe Bridgers: Funeral
The Dream Syndicate: How Did I Find Myself Here

Kendrick Lamar: The Heart Part 4
Faux Ferocious: Me and Johnny
Peter Perrett: Living in My Head
This is the Kit: Bullet Proof
Michael Nau: Big Wind No Sail
Future feat. Kendrick Lamar: Mask Off (Remix)
Valerie June: The Front Door
Zephaniah O’Hora: High Class City Girl From the Country
King Krule: Dum Surfer
Thurston Moore: Turn On

The Feelies: Turn Back Time
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: If We Were Vampires
QTY: Michael
Laura Marling: Soothing
Sudan Archives: Come Meh Way
Linda Vidala, KingSkurkOne, OnklP, Kamelen: Bængshot (Remix)
Vic Mensa: Say I Didn’t
Bedouine: One of These Days
Beach Fossils: Down the Line
Gun Outfit: Strange Insistence

Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, Justin Bieber: Despacito (Remix)
J A Y E L E C T R O N I C A: Letter to Falon
Andrew Combs: Rose Colored Blues
Big Sean: Bounce Back
Sampha: (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano
Michael Nau: Big Wind No Sail
The War On Drugs: Thinking of a Place
Manchester Orchestra: The Alien
Miley Cyrus: Malibu
Steven Wilson w/ Ninet Tayeb: Pariah

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Tezeta
Gold Star: Come With Me
Kamasi Washington: Truth
Real Estate: Darling
Afghan Whigs: Arabian Heights
Otis Taylor: Walk on Water
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: French Press
Curtis Harding: On and On
Karen Elson: Distant Shores
Mount Eerie: Real Death

Big Thief: Mary
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Rattlesnake
Floating Points: Silurian Blue
Jay Som: The Bus Song
Lizzo: Water Me
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile: Over Everything
Rodney Crowell: It Ain’t Over Yet
Erlend Ropstad: Det Store Blå
David Ramirez: Twins
Tara Jane O’Neil: Flutter

Milk Music: Crying Wand
Mashrou’Leila: Roman
Mary Epworth: Me Swimming
Kacy & Clayton: Just Like a Summer Cloud
Bing & Ruth: The How of It Sped
Protomartyr: My Children
Saba Abraha: Wicked Ways
Ought: These 3 Things
Pinegrove: Intrepid
Woods: Spring Is in the Air

Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton: Fatal Gift
Selena Gomez: Bad Liar
Vince Staples: BagBak
Algiers: The Underside of Power
Kevin Morby: Baltimore (Sky at Night)
Leikeli47: 2nd Fiddle
Brockhampton: SWEET
Charlotte Gainsbourg: Ring-a-Ring O’ Roses
St. Vincent: New York
Lilly Hiatt: The Night David Bowie Died

Slowdive: Sugar For the Pill
Everything Is Recorded feat. SYD, Sampha: Show Love
Kaleema: Sierra Leona
Colter Wall: Kate McCannon
Tønes: Våkna ny
Jeb Loy Nichols: Come See Me
Sam Gellaitry: Jungle Waters
Julien Baker: Appointments
Sufjan Stevens: Tony Harding (in D Major)
Lambert: In the Dust of Our Days